Talking about loneliness is just as taboo as talking about sex; especially on Valentines Day. To destigmatize loneliness, I will share my intimate dance with this feeling. After decluttering my home I took a magnifying glass to other areas of my life that needed decluttering (people, work, time and mental and physical health) . Deep in the trenches of singlehood for over two years and no dates for 14 months, in this unconventional fast, I began exploring my own loneliness. What is the root of it? What can fill those lonely moments? Is it true you can be lonely AND be in a relationship? Yup! Should we marinate in loneliness or hide it in a crowded room? Why can’t you talk about it? Will you be judged for having so many friends, but yet feeling lonely? Is there a difference in loneliness and being alone? Can the people around tell when you are lonely? In my state of Post Traumatic Growth (PSG), these are the questions I reflected on over the past 14 months.
As life kicks you in the a$$ you have one of two options 1. Take the beating or 2. Learn from the a$$ kicking. Somehow, I did both. As I transitioned into option two, I stopped dating and devoted my time and energy to better understanding what self-love and self-compassion meant to Kenya. That’s when loneliness snuck in and gently caressed me. The journey to self-discovery and the process of PSG can be lonesome. Reason being, you are on a ride in a one passenger vehicle. You can make pit stops and chat with folk, but there is only room for one! On this path I realized the following about myself:
- Self-love and self-compassion were absent.
- The feeling of “unlovability” felt real!
- There was a deficit of reciprocal friendships/relationships.
- The loneliness was fed by being around people who were emotionally unavailable (friends, family, boyfriends, ect.)
- In this phase of my life I thrive on being connected to people who show authenticity, vulnerability, compassion, transparency, kindness and integrity.
- The loneliness was initially from missing romantic love, but at the root was the need to feel a deeper more authentic connection to people. People who have depth and warmth.
- International travel is my escape, especially solo travel. I have to have it. It’s how I connect with the world.
- I missed those real juicy conversations that give you insight into someone’s heart. When you become “grown,” that’s sacred territory. All people want to talk about is work. So boring to me! I’d rather know what’s going on in their lives and hearts.
I recently participated in a meeting on the Epidemiology of Love and Compassion and there was a discussion on how suicide and loneliness have become public health problems. The cause, some believe, is this lack of real authentic connections. I believe this to be true. As I explored my own fears, judgment, self-doubt, and loneliness this is how I turned the focus to self-love, self-compassion and fed my loneliness:
- Therapy…get you some. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t need it. I wish there was an EBT card for therapy. The people I know who are the most grounded have a therapist on call.
- Meditation, gotta have it. Y’all saw my compassion room (I JUST came up with that name and love it).
- Yoga, do I love it? Truthfully, probably not love, but my body does.
- Water, hate it! But it’s a requirement to stay alive and limber.
- Love is crucial and not the romantic type (maybe later), but the real authentic I can laugh, dance, share juicy stories, pray and cry with you kind of love.
- Community building in all aspects……work, play, & home. I am that one who knocks on my neighbors’ doors and they actually feed me and bring me wine!
- Laughter is a requirement. Someone complimented my laugh the other day and that brought me great joy. I get it from my mama! Listen y’all. I CANNOT be around people, for extended periods of time, if they do not make me belly laugh. I have a low tolerance for uptight people who take themselves too seriously. Laughter is food for the soul.
- Lastly, my bath soaks and abhyanga, I can’t walk around the ATL ashy! That’s NOT self-care, that is doing right by my people. jokes…..
- I fully embrace who I am, and accept that at times I have to be unapologetically a loner. Anyone who really knows me, knows I love my ME time.
- Loneliness is normal, understand the root and don’t fill the emptiness with things and undeserving people! Acknowledge the feeling and keep it moving.
Intentionality is key. Decluttering your personal space is easy, the hard work begins after the things are gone and you are left with your thoughts and what feels like emptiness. What questions should you ask yourself about the things, the people and the feelings you use as a crutch? As you learn to live more intentional letting go becomes slightly easier and the pain isn’t so visceral. The result is the kind of self-love that is unbreakable; even when you have moments of loneliness, they are only moments they become a faint whisper that will become easier to ignore.
In the words of India Arie’s Private Party:
I’m having a private party
Ain’t nobody here but me, my angels, and my guitar, singin’
“Baby, look how far we’ve come, yeah”
I’m havin’ a private party
Learning how to love me
Celebrating the woman I’ve become, yeah
I get it now, this is intentional limitless love. Yes………